ABU DHABI: A gold topped Lewis Hamilton topped the times with record speed on Friday as he and Sebastian Vettel traded fastest laps in second practice for this weekend’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
As both men and their Mercedes and Ferrari teams set about claiming the early momentum in a ‘development war’ race ahead of the 2018 season, Vettel conceded that he was racing already as if it was a new year.
“We try stuff all the time to improve the car – not specifically for next year – but everything we tried the last two weeks is for next year,” he said. “The mind-set is that we are already in next year.
“It’s important to finish on a high. The better the result, the better the mood. We will try our best, but in our heads I think we are already thinking about next year’s car.”
Hamilton reeled off his track record lap as he topped the times for Mercedes ahead of Vettel’s Ferrari in the twilight second free practice.
The newly-crowned four-time world champion Briton clocked a best lap of one minute and 37.877 seconds to outpace German Vettel, also a four-time champion, by one-tenth of a second in a session that began in sunlight and finished after dark.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo was third quickest for Red Bull ahead of the Finns Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari and Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes with Dutchman Max Verstappen sixth for Red Bull.
“It’s been a good day, but I’m happy that it’s the last Friday of the season,” said Hamilton.
“We got lots of laps in today and made good progress with the balance of the car. We have a bit of work to do, but I feel like we’re quite competitive here.
“It’s relatively close still, but I like that. Especially for this weekend, I’ve got a helmet with gold leaf for the World Championship, which I’m really grateful for.”